Saudi Arabia’s King Salman named Khalid A. Al-Falih as chairman of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s biggest crude exporter, replacing Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi in that role, according to state television.
Al-Falih, born in 1959, was also named health minister in a royal court statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday. It wasn’t clear if he will continue to serve as president and chief executive officer of state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil, known as Saudi Aramco. An Aramco media official, who asked not to be identified due to company policy, said he couldn’t comment beyond what was in the royal decree.
“Having Al-Falih as a full cabinet member now does not preclude him from other ministerial positions including petroleum in the future,” Mohammed al-Ramady, professor of economics at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, said by phone on Wednesday.
Al-Falih said on Jan. 28 that Saudi Arabia won’t “singlehandedly” balance global crude markets even if prices fall. Saudi Arabia has resisted calls from fellow members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to trim output. OPEC kept its production target unchanged at a Nov. 27 meeting, seeking to defend market share rather than support prices which fell about 50 percent last year.
Al-Falih took office as president and CEO of the company on January 1, 2009, according to the company’s website. He spent his entire career at Aramco over a period of three decades.
Al-Falih earned a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in the U.S in 1982. In 1991, he graduated with an MBA from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.